Remember when your munchkins were young – when they were tiny, chubby, and cute? Remember all the priceless moments with your infant: cuddling, cooing, first steps, first words, first time accurately hitting the porcelain? These are the moments we treasure in our hearts. We remember these times with fondness and affection. How is it that we can all have such affectionate memories of our kids? Surely, there were rough times, no? Perhaps God, in His wisdom, has designed our brains to slowly sift out the bad memories and retain the good ones. Let us focus for a moment on those not-so-pleasant memories. Bear with me. There is a message in here somewhere!
The reality of parenthood paints a much different picture than the customary idyllic, pastoral scenes of cherubic chubby cheeks and intrigued inquisitive innocence. Reality is a bit more bleak. When the idea of parenthood gives way to the reality of parenthood, life takes on a much more serious and ominous tone. Suddenly, you realize that the responsibility for the very survival of this tiny package of baby fat rests on you! What was your response when this axiom of life eventually slapped you in the face? Mine was panic! (“Whatever will we do?”). Then came denial – a false sense of security that, despite my best efforts, all will work out (“He’ll be fine!”). Then, after a brief period of perpetual nausea, my initial responses, thankfully, gave way to submission (“I suppose I’ll have to make this work.”). A result of this eventual capitulation was a determined resolve. Not only were we going to make this raising-a-child thing work, but we were going to make it work well! My guess is that you, too, went through a similar process (hopefully, without the nausea).
And then you arrived home from the hospital.
The convenience of having a hospital nursery was disturbingly replaced by multiple interruptions of the sensation formerly known as sleep. Even though you thought baby food was pretty disgusting, you quickly began to realize that the final product was abundantly more so. You were likely convinced that you could not do this. Yet still, you persevered. When sweet slumber finally returned to your life and Junior could feed himself, your struggles turned nasal. Constant wiping of his nose became a form of recreation. And when the snotty nose was cured, there were more struggles, more challenges. You were likely convinced that you did not have the energy to keep this up. Yet still, you persevered. Then, when Junior was somewhat self-sufficient and your life finally began to display some normalcy, you began homeschooling!
Let me stop to congratulate you on making a very brave decision. When the Juniors of society come of age, much of our culture today relegates the mental raising of children to the state…and many relegate the spiritual raising of children to the church. But you have chosen to carry the responsibility for raising your children in all aspects.
Now, here we are. It has been five, six, seven years since you began homeschooling and it has not been an easy path. Other activities have recently begun cluttering the once-serene household: soccer, piano, swimming, baseball, choir, youth group. Whereas you were once happy to teach Junior the “A, B, Cs” you are finding that the course material is actually getting more challenging. You were likely convinced that you did not have the patience to do this. Obviously, teaching a sixth-grader is not impossible, and you are a pretty smart cookie in your own right. But still, it now takes more time to prepare lessons, more aptitude to teach the lessons, and more energy to ensure Junior “gets it.” You are likely questioning whether or not you can keep this up. Yet still, you persevere. But now, the end is in sight. You are looking forward to the day when Junior can attend middle school or high school and you can say to yourself, “Well done!”
But why? Why are we so willing to send Junior off to school when homeschooling has been so good for him (and us)? Is it because we do not have the capacity to continue homeschooling? Or is it that we do not have the patience to continue homeschooling? Maybe we think we do not have the energy to continue homeschooling?
Think back to that day in the hospital when the reality of parenthood slapped you in the face. Did you think you had the capacity to be a parent? Did you think you had the patience to be a parent? Did you think you had the energy to be a parent? I daresay the answer was “no.” Yet still, you persevered. Was it easy? No. Was it fun? Perhaps at times it was, but by and large, it was a lot of hard work. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Before you think about sending Junior to school now that he is in middle school (or high school), I encourage you to take a long look inside and examine your motives. If you feel that you do not have the capacity, or the patience, or the energy to continue homeschooling, then remember this: providing for your children’s physical needs was of the utmost importance to you when they were babies and toddlers, and now that they are older, they need you even more. They need you to raise them mentally and spiritually. They need you to teach them to love God with their heart, soul, and mind. You can do this! And if you take 1 Peter 4:11 as God’s Word, then you must believe that you can do this “with the strength God provides”! God has previously enabled you to overcome these same hurdles, and it was worth it!